Sen Warren Looks Ahead to Changes in the Opioid Crisis, Transportation

As Sen. Elizabeth Warren campaigns for re-election, she has been traveling to different neighborhoods around the

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren sat down with the Boston Sun’s Lauren Bennett for a one-on-one interview following the Town Hall.

state and speaking out on various issues.

Prior to a town hall in the South End on July 28, the Senator sat down with the Sun to discuss a number of these topics that are important to the state.

As the opioid crisis continues to affect individuals and families across the state, Warren said that the federal government is just “nibbling around the edges of this problem.”

According to Warren, 115 people will die today from the opioid epidemic. She believes that people are not receiving the treatment they need “not because we don’t know what to do,” but because “this country, this government, will not make the investments necessary to treat addiction as the medical problem that it is,” she said.

Warren compared the opioid epidemic to the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s, and said that the government’s response to that crisis was the same—to “nibble around the edges” and ignore the fact that it was a problem. She said that after 13-year-old Ryan White announced that he had AIDS in the 80s, the federal government finally put in the resources to fight against the epidemic.

“It worked,” Warren said. “We turned around the number of new cases, improved treatment for those who had HIV/AIDS, and today, there are people with HIV/AIDS still, but there are people who are alive, people who are receiving treatment because as a country we fought back against this crisis.”

So to fight back against the opioid epidemic in a similar fashion, Warren and Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings have introduced a bill called the CARE Act, in honor of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act that was used to fight AIDS. Warren said that this bill would provide 100 billion dollars in support to fight the opioid epidemic over the next ten years, and the money would be directly received by the communities that are most affected. Suffolk County would receive $7,227,000 under this new CARE Act.

“There’s enormous flexibility in it, but one central requirement,” Warren said. “And that is that the treatment will be evidence-based. That is, we use science.”

She said that she will follow what scientists think is the best practice for treating addiction and what will save the most lives.

As far as immigration goes, President Trump has said that he wants to cut funding for sanctuary cities. Broadly, a sanctuary city is one that protects immigrants by limiting efforts by federal immigration enforcement.

“First, its wrong, and second, it’s unconstitutional,” Warren said.  “The Supreme Court has made clear that the federal government cannot withhold funds from one project in order to try to force a state or locality to engage in other practices that the deferral government would like it to do but has no authority to make it do.”

She said she spoke to law enforcement officials across the Commonwealth who say they would like to work with communities with a high proportion of immigrants.

This means, she said, that people need to show up as witnesses and be willing to report crimes. “They need people to see law enforcement as their friend, not as an invading force,” she said.

She believes it is imperative that people listen to law enforcement officials about what is the safest thing for cities to do.

President Trump has also recently nominated Kathleen Kraninger for the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Warren, who came up with the idea for the bureau in 2007, said that it “was created in order to give consumers a fighting chance when they take out a mortgage, use a credit card, get a student loan. A fighting chance not to be cheated.”

Warren said that the consequences of not having a CFPB were great—millions of people were cheated on their home mortgages and lost their homes, and people were cheated out of billions of dollars in credit cards. The consequence was that it “wrecked the entire economy,” she said.

She said that while the CFPB exists to make sure that consumers are not cheated, “Donald Trump and his banker friends are doing everything they can to undermine that.”

Infrastructure funding at the federal level has been a topic of discussion as well with the current administration.

“Infrastructure is like plowing the fields so that seeds can grow in the future,” Warren said. “Making investments in transportation, water, communications, clean power, is all about good jobs today but better jobs tomorrow because businesses can flourish here in America.”

She said China understands this concept, because is currently invests nine percent of its GDP in infrastructure. “They are creating an advantage for their businesses of the future.”

Currently, the United States invests only about three percent of its GDP on infrastructure, “which barely replaces what is crumbling around us and leaves very little for creating the infrastructure of the 21st century,” Warren said.

She said that the Republicans gave away a trillion and a half dollars in tax cuts to “billionaires and giant corporations,” and she said that now they say that there is no funding available for infrastructure.

“I believe that we make those investments in infrastructure, particularly transportation infrastructure, so that we can build a real 21st century economy that works here in America,” Warren said.

Warren has helped secure $400 million to improve public transit with the Green Line extension, as well as helped secure over $300 million to dredge the Boston Harbor so it can handle more shipping.

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